In conversation with... Kate London

Hi Kate! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of Gallowstree Lane! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: A boy steps out of the shadows of Gallowstree Lane and asks a stranger for help. The stranger is an off-duty paramedic and quickly realises the boy has been stabbed and that his life is in danger. In his concern he doesn’t notice the other boy, watching in the shadows. This is Ryan. Spencer, the boy who has been stabbed, is his best friend.

Ryan’s is desperate to find out why Spencer has been killed and determined to take revenge for his death. In the process he gets drawn into the bigger world of serious and organised crime, where the stakes are high and the violence ripples outwards to endanger everyone who has dealings on Gallowstree Lane.
Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?
A: I don’t have a plot figured out from the beginning. I wish I could write like that! I knew I wanted to write about these young men. I knew them very well – as victims, witnesses, suspects. I was gripped by their stories and I had to write about them. I worked from this impulse. 
What kind of research, if any, did you have to carry out while you were writing this novel? In general, is research something you enjoy or a means to an end?
A: I was a detective in the Met, including working homicide, so I already knew a lot about this subject. I had to do some policing research because there are always areas of specialisation that need detailing. I also got to know Sheldon Thomas who runs the charity Gangsline. Sheldon was involved in a gang and now mentors young people out of crime and is an advocate for change. We spent hours talking together and his input was invaluable. 
Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?
A: The first scene was such a useful starting point for me. I could see Gallowstree Lane so powerfully in my mind and the frightened boy reaching out for help in the darkness. I kept coming back to that as the engine of the book and it guides me right through to the end. 
Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?
A: Very little was wasted! On my earlier book, Death Message, there was a whole story line that I jettisoned. I may return to this as a stand-alone book at a later time. 
If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?
A: Working on it but shhhhh. It’s at the bit where if I expose it to the light it might stop growing. On the other hand it is beginning to acquire a life of its own. I’m finding myself beginning to write into the evenings and to neglect my family. Always a good sign. 
What are you reading at the moment?
A: Just finished Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton. Absolute page-turner! It’s going to be a best seller.
Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?
A: I love interacting with my readers. I always try to reply to messages on FB and Twitter. It’s so encouraging and heart-warming to hear how alive the characters are to them. We read Gallowstree Lane together on a digital platform called The Pigeonhole and I really valued the input I got from that. In addition I am part of the policing, legal and writing communities on Twitter and this is a source of friendship and fun. On the other hand doing the publicity for a new novel does disrupt the writing a bit. I need to carve out whole days to get lost in the story. I go to a cottage in Shropshire to be on my own and immerse myself in cold water (I swim outdoors in rivers and lakes) and in the world of the book.
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
A: Write. Don’t put it off. Don’t censor yourself. Put it on the page. You can always make it better. You can only write by writing. 
Thank you for your time!

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